Francis Fukuyama in Foreign Policy Magazine: Samuel Huntington's Legacy

This article by Francis Fukuyama is based on a 2008 piece on the website of the American Interest and the preface to the 2006 edition of Political Order in Changing Societies.

(excerpt) This argument is still very much with us. In the wake of America's flawed nation-building efforts in Afghanistan and Iraq, many people have suggested the need for sequencing in development, putting state-building ahead of efforts to democratize and expand political participation.

Political Order in Changing Societies was one of Huntington's earlier works, and one that established his stature as a political scientist, but it was far from his last major contribution to comparative politics. His work on democratic transition also became a point of reference in the period after the end of the Cold War. Ironically, this stream of writing began with a 1984 article in Political Science Quarterly titled "Will More Countries Become Democratic?" Surveying the situation following the Spanish, Portuguese, and Latin American democratic transitions of the 1970s and early 1980s, Huntington made the case that the world was not likely to see more shifts from authoritarianism in the near future given inauspicious structural and international conditions. This was written, of course, a mere five years before the fall of the Berlin Wall. He shifted gears quickly after the collapse of communism, however, and wrote The Third Wave, a book that gave the name to the entire period.